Giants Get the Best of Dodgers Amidst Typical Rivalry Dramatics
Kevin Correia (2-5) looked to be on path to a routine win Monday night as the Giants took the first of a three game set at Dodger Stadium, 7-6. He retired the first 10 he faced and had only given up one hit through four innings. What the Dodgers knew was that Correia has been plagued by the "big inning" in almost every start besides his lone win of the season all the way back on April 10th (he missed 90 days on the DL in May and June). They also knew that by the fifth inning (his average outing this season has been 3 1/3 innings) he was due for that "big inning." Before we reach Correia's troubles it would only be fair to address the path that losing pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (6-8) took to give up 7 Giants runs in 3 2/3 innings.
After Fred Lewis and Jose Castillo drove in a run each in the third, the wheels started to fall off for the Dodgers and Kuroda. With none out in the fourth, the Giants put a hit and run on with runners at the corners. As John Bowker made his way to second on RIch Aurilia's chopper back to the mound, Kuroda would end up making a mistake that ultimately lost the game for the men in blue. As Kuroda fielded the ball, he looked back the runner at third, and without direction from catcher Russel Martin, threw to second for the force out without realizing the runner had been going on the pitch. Bowker had long since made it to the bag and Aurilia made it to first safely on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. The most unlikely of offensive support occured two batters later as Correia helped his own cause and lined a 2 RBI single up the middle of the diamond. Things got much worse, and before the inning was over the Dodgers had already gone to the pen and were down 7-0.
Perhaps it was poetic justice that, just as the Dodgers' defensive short comings began the Giants' run scoring output in the fourth, the Giants would begin the bottom of the fifth with a fielding error and missed potential double play ball that got underneath the glove of 11-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel. After consecutive singles by Casey Blake, James Loney, and Angel Berroa (to make the score 7-2), second all time pinch hit hits leader Mark Sweeney roped a double to left to bring the score to 7-4. Correia's "big inning" had arrived, and he sat down to start the sixth with the game at 7-5.
Bewildering to most, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy hit Correia in the sixth and had him pitch 1/3 of the bottom half of the inning before relieving him with the beginning of an astounding 5-man bullpen relief effort (1 hit, 0 runs) capped off by a perfect ninth thrown by NL saves leader, Brian Wilson. The performance by the Dodger bullpen was equally as impressive, retiring 16-straight down the stretch. The only thing they couldn't do, manufacture more runs, was the difference.
Left-handed reliever Jack Taschner of the Giants had many scouts on hand to see him pitch and when asked about how the rumors of being traded within the week were affecting him he said, "What happens, happens. That's the part of baseball you have no control over. All I can control is what I throw for strikes and how good my beard looks."
Casey Blake, newcomer 3B from the Cleveland Indians, made his presence known to his new hometown crowd in Los Angeles with his offensive contributions but also when the first base umpire threw him out of the game as he was in the third base dugout. Blake ran all the way from the dugout (presumably to have a civil conversation), and as a consequence was held back by Manager Joe Torre who soon there after was ejected also.
The Giants and Dodgers are back at Chavez-Ravine for Game 2 of three on Tuesday prime time with Matt Cain (6-8, 3.82 ERA) and Jason Johnson (0-0, 2.57 ERA) taking the hill.
By Gavin Stuart
> View all of the MLB baseball news articles from ProBaseball-fans.com.